Remote ranch adventures, days 2-3

To adequately cover all we have done since yesterday morning would take time and bandwidth I do not have. We are whirling dervishes spinning across a remote ranch as if it's a giant pinball game: Here is a century-old cemetery in which a family of crytpo-Jews are buried. Their ancestors came from Spain via Mexico and these generations lived and died on the land that is now this ranch. Their gravestones still rest within a beautiful dry-stack, rock-wall rectangle, some turned topsy by time, shifting land, roots and wind; a cross placed snugly in the top peak of a Star of David adorning one, tells us what their residents wouldn't or couldn't have.

There is Fort Hatch, surrounded by land still turning up the treasures it's held for decades: arrow heads; bullets; wagon bolts; hand-forged nails. The arrow heads are crafted from rock not native to this part of the country; once you know what to look for, the colors stand out against the more muted hues indigenous to this land. Fort Hatch was once considered as a Civil War outpost but was ultimately thought to be too far from Texas and so was abandoned for War purposes. These walls, also dry-stack, remain.

Here a clearing full of petrified wood, trees-now-rocks nestled among prickly pear cacti and their scrubby and succulent friends. You can make prickly pear jelly, if you're willing to pluck the spiny magenta barrels from the more aggressively spiky paddles, boil and then scrape them clean, juice and cook them down. Not me, friends.

There is the bed of what was once the inland sea, a body of water that covered most of what is now New Mexico. We walk across it, marveling at the passage of 75 million years.

There is the surreal Star Axis, brainchild of the eccentric mathematician-artist Charles Ross, soaring out of a Ross-made chasm in the mesa. Nearly forty years in the making, the steps leading to the star hole sit parallel with Earth's axis and lead you to spot Polaris in perfectly due-North fashion. Each stair, when completed, will be marked with the point in time, both past and future, at which you can see Polaris from that vantage. The stairs climb eleven stories, and the views are breathtaking. Don't ask me for additional explanation. It's all entirely too-mathy for me to really understand, but it's very cool. You can read more via the Star Axis link above.

DSC_9569To be continued because I am SO pooped.